I’m a cowboy, I got the night on my side. I’m wanted ...
— Bon Jovi
It doesn’t take a particularly vivid imagination to conjure up an image of Butch Mosely, 10-gallon cowboy hat pulled low over his eyes, riding into town on his trusty steed, his steely-eyed gaze set, unwavering, as he prepares to clean up whatever mess has sprung up with the local school system.
Mosely’s been such a troubleshooter — a gunslinger for hire, if you will — for the last several years, wearing the “interim” tag here and there for a few weeks or months, however long the mission takes, interrupting his retirement long enough to try and right listing school system ships before they crash completely and sink into oblivion.
The lifetime educator, whose old-school father taught him one of life’s indelible lessons when he allowed his son to temporarily step away from his pursuit of higher education just long enough to realize that there are a lot worse things than sitting in a classroom, has brought that same big-picture approach to the Dougherty County School System as he tries to help it overcome enough plagues and boils to make Job sympathetic.
As most “new sheriffs in town” are, Mosely’s being approached warily by the rank and file in the school system, survival mode dictating an out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality, especially among those who know they’d have a tough time justifying their continued employment if close scrutiny ever became the order of the day. In a system that has grown precariously top-heavy — on a level that would shame Dolly Parton — Mosely has already had an opportunity to spread a little bit of that old fear of God ... and he’s just getting started.
A system as close to rock-bottom as Dougherty’s, one former school official told me recently, needs someone with no close ties to system personnel — from the janitorial staff to the classroom educators to the various schools’ administrators all the way up to the Pine Avenue administration building — who has the guts to come in and make tough decisions. Here’s hoping that’s what the system’s School Board was counting on when it hired Mosely.
Because that’s what they got.
For others in the community, though, who like me have the luxury of observing the goings-on of the system from the outside in — those of us who don’t have to worry that the gunslinger might have to draw down on us if he finds it necessary — Mosely has made a different mark. Spend a little time with him — and, trust me, it doesn’t take much — and you’ll quickly discover one of the most congenial and genuine individuals you’ve ever met.
There’s a whole lot to be said for a guy who’s confident enough in his abilities and comfortable enough in his own skin to forego pretension on even a minimal level. No matter what title you choose to stick on your name — doctor, lawyer, politician, titan of industry — bet your bottom dollar that it’s not going to carry a lot of weight with Mosely, who has been involved in his life’s work for more than 36 years and also is a Decatur County commissioner. You get the feeling in his presence that when he spends time with anyone, he’d like to hand out a card that says, “Let’s cut through the bull. You just be you, because I’m definitely going to be me.”
He’s still not quite to the outer edges of his honeymoon period in Dougherty County, but the scuttlebutt all around the community is that Mosely is doing a pretty terrific job in addressing the issues that he waded into. He’s already gotten some of the federal funds that were being held up for past incompetencies released, and he’s made personnel changes that everyone knew were needed, but that no one made in the past for fear of drawing the ire of this group or that.
Of course, that’s a lot easier to do when you’re a hired gun.
He’s no doubt heard it before, but there’s already talk of a “let’s keep this guy around” movement. Mosely said during a conversation last week that’s not something he’s interested in. He has one agenda item: Leave the Dougherty County School System in better shape than he found it.
Only a fool would doubt that he’ll do that ... not that he’ll ride out of town and into the sunset caring a whole lot what anyone thinks.
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.